it really depends...
all things ideal... a good meal 3-4 hrs before ride.
if the ride is 2+ hours, i'll snack after the first hour then each following hour
but I always bring food, somedays you just need more then others...
it also depends if you are using a sport drink. This can reduce the need for food.
Multiple studies have shown that in 90 minute range, your performance begins to decline without added calories. Obviously this will depend on how well fueled you are before the ride, how hard you ride, how fit you are, and your individual characteristics. I regularly ride 2 hours without eating anything and have gone farther, but that is at a steady pace rather than pushing hard. If I'm going long, I start eating after 40-45 minutes, and keep eating throughout the ride. For most of my rides, I take a break at about 30-40 mile point and drink a Coke, eat some cookies, and chomp some mixed nuts. That's enough to get me home comfortably on a 60-70 mile ride.
It all depends on how intense the ride is. If I'm out for a four hour zone 2 ride, I'll just take water, and just maybe a powerbar. If it's a 90 minute race, I'll use a gel after an hour or so. A three hour group training ride will need some gel and a powerbar or two.
A forum community dedicated to Road Bike owners and enthusiasts. Come join the discussion about bike parts, components, deals, performance, modifications, classifieds, troubleshooting, maintenance, and more!